This past weekend a symposium was held locally called Turning the Tide: Reclaiming Human Health by Restoring the Planet. With panels on such things as A Spiritual Response to a Planet in Crisis, Learning From Libby:Calamity in a Company town, Ecological Food Choices, Chemical Policy, Green and Clean at Home, etc.. it is a sort of uniquely Missoula expert/technologist/ spiritualist approach at understanding the ongoing, deepening crisis.
It closes with a discussion tomorrow night entitled: Montana to the Tar Sands: The True Cost of Oil, because we have found our local communities serendipitously caught in the middle of this serious energy issue. Our group has been vocally participating in community discussions lately, interjecting an uncomfortable ( for liberal Missoulians) anti-capitalist critique. This is what I will say tomorrow night.
"Many of you here are medical professionals trained to look holistically at symptoms of a sick patient and diagnose the underlying disease. So when we are discussing the health of a planet, it seems you would want to look beyond symptoms as well, the ecological damage, the hollowed out politics unable to arrange policy solutions, the "eco-despair" as you put it. And yet surprisingly, we hear no discussion on the most fundamental determinant of the destruction,the underlying political economy, or this thing we call liberal democratic capitalism.
Seen in this light, Libby was the victim of market forces, the profit system, in the same way as Bhopal. Butte or countless communities across the globe. Using this deeper, broader frame we can see that the Canadian Tar Sands are the result of profit driven energy development to which any so-called "policy" is held absolutely hostage. Using this holistic approach, the conclusion that all the issues you have been discussing - from cancer rates, to hormone disruption, to climate change to food choices- are related to the structures and institutions of capitalism is inescapable. And all attempts at mitigating these problems, these symptoms, without acknowledging the disease, is simply green washing. It seems to me very much like giving a patient with a brain cancer an aspirin for the headaches and leaving the tumor intact.
As you look to "Restoring the Planet", do you believe this can be accomplished within the framework of so-called democratic capitalism?"
Practically every night in this town there is a panel or a speaker or a gathering of and by mostly liberals putting forward the same, tired, failed ideas. They get access to all the platforms and pulpits. It is time for them to be challenged at every turn, consistently, relentlessly.